Lim Kit Siang writes to Prime Minister, Tun Razak, calling for a Public Commission of Inquiry into the $27 million scandal involving the issue of false APs for lorries and Mercedes Benz.

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, to the Negri Sembilan DAP State Sub-Committee held at Jalan Wilkinson premises, Seremban, on Sunday, 12th May 1974 at 3pm.

Lim Kit Siang writes to Prime Minister, Tun Razak, calling for a Public Commission of Inquiry into the $27 million scandal involving the issue of false APs for lorries and Mercedes Benz.

It was reported by the press two days ago that the Customs officers in North Malaya have seized more than 20 lorries, believed illegally assembled in Perak, worth about #400,000, and the vehicles are now at the Customs village ay Jalan Pegawai, Alor Setar.

The seized lorries, according to press reports, were of Bedford and Ford 1972 and 1973 models, and were mostly registered in Perak last year and this year, Several were registered in Kedah and Malacca.

This is the latest in a series of recent reports concerning the seizure of so-called illegally assembled cars and lorries over the past few months.

I have met some of the lorry owners whose vehicles have been seized. They are small-time businessmen who have bought the lorries in all good faith, taken out insurance cover for their lorries, and those vehicles are all properly registered by the R.I.M.V.

They are innocent of any wrongdoing, and in fact, unaware that their lorries possess any defect of title on the ground of being illegally assembled, or any other ground, and it is grossly unfair that they should now be required to suffer by having their vehicles seized.

I have in the last few days made further inquiries into this matter, and I have found that the government has not been completely frank with the people with regard to the recent spate of seizures of lorries and Mercedes Benz, supposed to be ‘illegally assembled.’

The lorries and Mercedes Benz which have been classified as ‘illegally assembled’ and of which Customs officials are on the lookout throughout the country, are clearly the work of a big syndicate.

I understand that these so-called ‘illegally assembled’ cars and lorries were imported, in whole, or in parts and then assembled locally, on false APs (or approved permits to import), and that to date, some 600 lorries worth some $12 million and 1,000 Mercedes Benz worth about $15 million are involved, and that this covered a time span of two years.

The Assistant Minister for Trade and Industry, Datuk Musa Hitam, had admitted in last month’s Dewan Rakyat that false APs were found to have been issued to import vehicles but he did not reveal to the Dewan Rakyat the extent and magnitude of this episode.

Many questions come to mind, which the authorities concerned must be able to satisfy the public if they are to convince them that the government want to get to the roof of the whole $27 million scandal, and to bring to book all those persons involved, no matter how highly placed they may be.

1. Who were the persons behind the issue of false APs to import vehicles, in whole or in parts?

2. Why the Ministry of Trade and Industry did not discover the racket of the false APs sooner, as all
APs, after use, had to be returned to the Ministry of Trade and Industry discover the racket after the first few false APs were returned, and nip the racket in the bud, instead of allowing a situation to develop where some 1,000 cars and 600 lorries were involved?

3. Why did the RIMV issue proper registration for all those vehicles if they are illegally assembled
from motor parts which have been imported on the basis on false APs?

This $27 million false APs scandal reeks of corruption and malpractices in high places and involving many departments. It seems self-evident that without the involvement and collusion of highly-placed personalities, this racket could not reach the magnitude and dimension it had, involving 600 lorries and 1,000 Mercedes Benz, over a period of about two years.

I have this morning written to the Prime Minister, Tun Razak, urging a Public Commission of Inquiry, headed by High Court judge, into all angles of this scandalous episode involving 600 lorries and 1,000 lorries Mercedes Benz, and such a Commission of Inquiry should also inquire into the whole practice of issuing APs, to find out its abuses and recommend ways and means to terminate these abuses.

Meanwhile, the Government should not penalise the innocent parties, the innocent purchasers of these vehicles, by depriving them if their vehicles which they had bought for value and in good faith. They should be allowed to get back these vehicles, on the strict condition that vehicles should not change ownership until the full will not be disrupted, and that the interest of the small businessmen, including a number of bumiputra businessmen, would be safeguarded.

One reason for the import of vehicles of lorries on false APs must be traced to the unimaginative and inflexible policy of the Ministry of Communications.

There is a great need for lorries in Malaysia, but our local assemblers are unable to cope with the demand. There is a year-long writing list for any one who wish to order purchase of a lorry.

Since the local assemblers cannot cope with local demand, the Ministry of Communications should permit free import of lorries and other vehicles, This will not only assist in the stepping up of development but remove the great temptation for corrupt practices by the abuse of quotas and permits.